Monday, February 24, 2014


In Praise of the Athenians

Euripides, Medea 824-834 (tr. David Kovacs):
From ancient times the sons of Erechtheus have been favored; they are children of the blessed gods sprung from a holy land never pillaged by the enemy. They feed on wisdom most glorious, always stepping gracefully through the bright air, where once, they say, the nine Pierian Muses gave birth to fair-haired Harmonia.

Ἐρεχθεΐδαι τὸ παλαιὸν ὄλβιοι
καὶ θεῶν παῖδες μακάρων, ἱερᾶς        825
χώρας ἀπορθήτου τ᾽ ἄπο, φερβόμενοι
κλεινοτάταν σοφίαν, αἰεὶ διὰ λαμπροτάτου
βαίνοντες ἁβρῶς αἰθέρος, ἔνθα ποθ᾽ ἁγνὰς        830
ἐννέα Πιερίδας Μούσας λέγουσι
ξανθὰν Ἁρμονίαν φυτεῦσαι.
Donald J. Mastronarde on ἀπορθήτου (line 826):
'unconquered' alludes to the claim that unlike almost all other Greek communities the Athenians were never forced by invaders to abandon their original homeland or accept the domination of immigrant groups (Thuc. 1.2.1, 1.2.5).

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